By Fred Kaweesi in Sao Paulo
The 2014 World Cup has attracted a star-studded cast of experienced football managers.
Apart from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who is here doing commentary for French television TFI, AC Milan gaffer Clarence Seedorf is working for the BBC alongside former England captain Rio Ferdinand and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis is working for BBC’s Radio 5 alongside Celtic manager Neil Lennon.
But the two I have managed to interact with this far have been Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini and former Chelsea boss Avram Grant.
Pellegrini is working for Chile’s national television while Grant is here in Brazil as a co-commentator for Israel TV station Channel One.
“I am really enjoying the tournament. It has been exciting so far,” Pellegrini told New Vision after Chile's 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands.
Grant has occasionally tangled up television punditry with some scouting work, work he intends to extend to Uganda after a thorough debriefing from yours truly.
“I visited Kenya but I have not been to Uganda. I had planned to come over in February while in Ethiopia but my daughter was due to wed that week, so I ended up cancelling my trip,” Grant told New Vision yesterday.
“If it’s worth coming over to Uganda like you say, I will. I promise, I will be coming around this year. Have my mobile number too,” Grant added, before reading it out.
Grant is a close associate with Pini Zahavi, football’s famed super-agent, who has helped secure some of the biggest transfer fees in the history of football.
He also works closely with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
In East Africa, Grant is only familiar with Kenyan football, particularly because of the outstanding presence of Kenyans
Donald Mariga at Inter Milan and Victor Wanyama at Premiership outfit Southampton.
He was at pains to mention a single Ugandan player.
However, after being briefed that Uganda was a resourceful area for talent and that Cranes have won the regional championship for a record 13 times –seven more than Kenya, he had second thoughts.
“I didn’t know that. I will come with my team for a workshop in Uganda,” he stated.
Grant, who boasts of managing three English Premier League sides including West Ham and Portsmouth, also explained why African teams continue to struggle in the world’ biggest sporting event.
“I certainly believed African teams would excel at this summer’s World Cup. I strongly believed that Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria would even go further than the quarter final stage if their mental strength was excellent.
But like before, they work against their own progress. Look at Cameroon, why would you fight over money before a big tournament like this. You can’t hear of that in any of the other Europeans teams,” he pointed.
“Africa has good talent to win the tournament but the attitude of African teams must change. When Italy won the World Cup in 2006, they didn’t have a very strong team.
They had something that is lacking in Africa and it was more to do with mental strength.”
Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana are the only African teams that have scaled the highest ranks in the tournament –all three reaching the quarter final stage in 1990 (Italy), 2002 (South Korea/Japan) and 2010 (South Africa) respectively.
Also related to this story
I’ll scout for talent in Uganda –Grant